Byron York

-- High-speed rail. The administration wants to build high-speed rail links in 13 densely populated areas around the country, at a price tag that could reach into the hundreds of billions of dollars. The president touted high-speed rail at no fewer than five campaign appearances in October. But there is virtually no hope that such projects, even if built exactly as the administration hopes, would bring the progress Obama claims. Recently, Newsweek economic columnist Robert Samuelson concluded that the rail lines would not result in "any meaningful reduction in traffic congestion, greenhouse-gas emissions, air travel, or oil consumption and imports. Nada, zip."

The disregard of facts and science and argument when they contradict ideological goals is nothing new for some key figures in the Obama circle. For example, back in 1996, while an aide in the Clinton White House, Obama Supreme Court pick Elena Kagan rewrote the opinion of an expert board of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists on the subject of partial-birth abortion. The board found that it could "identify no circumstances under which this procedure ... would be the only option to save the life or preserve the health of the woman." But Kagan, eager to aid the White House fight against a partial-birth abortion ban, refashioned the experts' opinion, saying the procedure "may be the best or the most appropriate procedure in a particular circumstances to save the life or preserve the health of a woman." She just made it up.

During the Bush years, liberals and Democrats often accused the administration of ignoring science and expert opinion if it conflicted with conservative ideological goals. That would change, we were told, if rational, pragmatic Democratic leaders were given a chance to run the government. Now we have had two years in which Democrats, with cherished ideological objectives of their own, have been fully in charge of Washington. Given what has taken place, can the president really claim that his is the party that values facts and science and argument above all?


Byron York

Byron York, chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner